What makes a Champion in basketball?
I was sitting here watching basketball on television and thinking about this question. I've been fortunate to be on some championship teams but this is different from the normal formulas. To me what makes a champion is a team that can cover their weaknesses the best. Everyone talks about the strengths of teams, especially ones that have a chance to be a champion. You rarely hear what teams best cover their weaknesses. No one person or team is perfect at everything in basketball. Coaches, players, and teams strive to be as perfect as they can in every aspect of the game of basketball. But you never hear folks talking about this. I am going to break down the teams I think are the biggest threats to win in IHSA Class 4A, 3A AND 2A, their weaknesses and which teams cover them the best. They will be the ones I feel end up champions in about three weeks. I'll do Class 4A in this one, then 3A and 2A in other write-ups. Here we go:
Glenbard West(Glen Ellyn):
Yes, the team I feel will win 4A. Their weakness is no true point guard, and not a deep bench but they cover these up one up so well. This is why I feel they will ultimately win.
Point guard: No they do not have a true point guard, but they have the ultimate press breaker, 6'11" Gonzaga commit Braden Huff who you can throw the ball too to break a press. Put him in the middle of the press, because he can see over a defense, dribble, pass, and shoot. 6'6" guard Princeton commit Caden Pierce is good at bringing the ball up against man to man pressure as is 6'7" wing Bobby Durkin. These guys do a great job covering this weakness up.
Lack of bench: Their starters are very smart on defense in the 1-3-1 zone. You rarely see any of their players in foul trouble. The only one you will see get into some foul trouble is Army commit Ryan Renfro, but this is because he's the most scrappy player on the team, and does a lot of the dirty work.
Lack of three point shooting, only one true point guard, lack of depth.
They have a lot of athletes with 6'6" to 6'8" wing players all over the place. They can run the floor, finish at the rim, and rebound well to cover their lack of three point shooting. I did not say lack of outside shooting, because they have good mid range shooters. Miami(FL) commit AJ Casey, Northern Illinois commit Xavier Amos, and Marcus Sommerville are all good at mid range, as well as finishing at the rim. Dalen Davis is the only true point guard that plays a lot of minutes, the other guard Marcus Pigrim tries to help, but not really a true point. Junior Daniel Johnson is back from injury but still working his way back in. He could help with three point shooting from the wing spot. He comes off the bench along with Marcus Overstreet in the paint. No true backups in the backcourt, but they are good at staying out of foul trouble.
Lack of depth, lack of size, make Elon commit Nick Martinelli play defense.
This team really covers up their weaknesses very well. Martinelli is smart on both ends of the court. He rarely gets in foul trouble because he allows baskets that do not hurt the team. He knows he has to stay in the game and doesn't challenge a lot of shots inside. He also does not go for ball fakes or tries to block a lot of shots. He boxes out and gets position to grab rebounds. They only go seven deep but are very smart on defense to keep out of foul trouble. They gang rebound sending five players to the defensive glass to help the lack of size. Point guard Cornell commit Cooper Noard snatches a lot of rebounds in the paint. They've shown they do not need a consistent third scorer as it seems to be a different guy every night. Junior Rodell Davis Jr is the closest thing to a third scorer. Senior forward Spencer Brown is a good passer at the high post.
Lack of size, bad shot selection, free throw shooting, uneven play.
They have a couple of players with size but they do not use them. Junior Solomon Mosely is the starter but he's in and out a lot. Talented sophomore Jaden Smith does not play as much either and can't get into a rhythm on either end of the court. Nevada commit Trey Pettigrew and Darrin Ames need to shoot better from the free throw line. This team shoots a lot of threes and are very bad when they are off. They cover their weaknesses up the least of any team I mentioned. The full court press they use helps cover up these weaknesses, and Davius Loury is a good rebounder from the wing, but he needs more help on the glass. The uneven play comes from the fast pace that they play, which covers up some of their weakness with size and rebounding. Ames needs to be more aggressive on offense getting into the lane. He's hard to deal with off the dribble with a quick first step, and ballhandling on a string. Protects the ball well with the dribble.
Lack of quickness, problems handling full court and half court pressure(traps).
This team has some good size but lacks some quickness. Covers it up well with zone defense, communicating very well on defense with each other. They spread the floor and kill you with three point shooting, Noah Shannon and Jack Fiegen are big time weapons. They force the defense to stretch out. This gives Dartmouth commit Jackson Munro free rein one on one to kill his defender. They fell apart in a semifinal at Pontiac to Simeon Career Academy's pressure and also had trouble with Evanston Township's pressure. They go about eight deep on the bench which is more than the other contenders. Kanellos brothers(Peter and Evan) share the point guard duties but they don't shoot the ball. That makes it easier for defenses where they can play 4 vs 5. Karlo Colak is a super sub who does everything off the bench.
Two things will help these teams with lack of depth: mask timeouts, and the television timeouts should any of them get to the State Finals in Champaign. There are other teams that are contenders but I see these four as better than most. Also Whitney Young and Kenwood Academy are in the same supersectional. Glenbrook South and New Trier are in the same sectional hence not all of these teams will be in Champaign. Other contenders are Normal Community(which I have not seen), Oswego East, Curie(Chicago), Wheaton Warrenville South, Bolingbrook.